BIENVILLE PARISH, LA (WVUE) - It seems a bit out of place in a state known for its marshes and cypress swamps, but you can actually do a little mountain climbing in Bienville Parish in Northwest Louisiana. FOX 8's Dave McNamara takes us to the top of Driskill Mountain, the state's highest point, in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.
There is an odd connection between this misty hilltop in North Louisiana and this aging 1960s New Orleans skyscraper. They are nearly the same height. The Plaza Towers reaches 531 feet, and Driskill Mountain peaks at 535 feet, the highest elevation in Louisiana. It's named after James Christopher Driskill, who came to bienville parish from georgia in the 1830's and picked this place to start a new home.
"See how it bubbles up from underneath there? You can pile it up and it will come up and overflow," said landowner Michael Driskill, James' great-great grandson.
Driskill says his ancestors were attracted by the naturally flowing springs.
"Because water was so hard to come by and especially fresh water, and it gave you water for your crops, for your family, and for all of your other necessities," he said.
But it wasn't until 1946 that the Driskill family discovered that their neighborhood hilltop was special.
"The USGs did a survey and mapped out the area, and that's when they found out that they had a couple of other high points they were looking at any mapped out, and they found out that the peak of Driskill Mountain was actually the highest point in Louisiana," Driskill said.
The families that own the property leave the peak open for the public to visit.
"The summit is about a mile up the road, and they walk up and go up and we have a place that you can see out over towards Jerdan Mountain, which is back to the west, and people come up here every day - quite a few," said Danny Driskill.
Even on a misty day, the hikers show up. Drew and Emily Jenson have reached the highest point in several states. This is number eight.
"It was very nice. Actually, it was a good trail," Jensen said. "Nice hardwood trees, lots of good plant life to take pictures of."
Texan Win Callender is checking another high point off his list.
"This is going to be number 19 of the high points in the United States for me," Callender said.
At the top, hikers can sign a guest book, relax a bit, then head back to their cars. For serious mountain climbers, 535 feet is not very impressive. Louisiana ranks number 48. That means there are two states - Florida and Delaware - whose highest point is lower than Driskill Mountain.
The hike is fairly easy, and it's a chance to experience scenery that doesn't feel like Louisiana. And for some, a nature walk can be a good thing. This note was left just two days earlier. Someone wrote: "Today I climbed this mountain instead of attempting suicide. Today I conquered this mountain. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to conquer mine."
Our cloudy, misty day on Driskill Mountain suddenly changed. The sun found this special place. The dreariness was gone, and the outlook, much brighter.
Driskill Mountain is about 15 miles south of the town of Arcadia. The parking area is at the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church on Highway 507, not far from where Bonnie and Clyde were killed.